In my previous post I decided I would run for president (at least on my blog), since I don't agree with the policies of either candidate, and think most of the time they evade questions and speak only rhetoric during the debates rather than giving any substantive answers. This was spurred by the VP debate last Thursday night. So I talked about the economy and health care and such, so now it's time for foreign policy.
First, I think it's so interesting how much trouble Obama's getting into because he said he'd sit down and TALK to foreign leaders. What kind of a democracy are we exemplifying when we have a list of people we won't even speak to? I would talk to any foreign leaders who wanted to talk: everyone would understand that my meeting with them did not mean that I agreed with their position, but that I genuinely wanted to hear their voice and work out something that would meet both their needs and ours. I would treat them with respect and dignity, listening to their grievances and trying to do something about it. I wouldn't say, "Oh, you're a terrorist organization! Well, that's freedom of choice for you! Let's just rubber-stamp your government plan as long as you give us control of the oil in your area--but look out, in a few years we'll run you out so we can have true control!" With terrorist organizations I would listen to their grievances against America, and try to get behind the list of grievances to the real pain and inequity that exists, and brainstorm with them what to do about it in a way that's realistic and makes life livable for the people they claim to represent and the people I have been elected to represent.
When meeting with foreign leaders--or anyone for that matter--I would have a time of centering silence first, where everyone involved sits in a circle together and connects with that of God in themselves. Hopefully this would break down barriers of "my religion vs. your religion" and barriers of hierarchy and power. Hopefully this would allow us to talk on a deeper level about the struggles and fears we have, and to connect with the God-given creative space within each of ourselves to come up with solutions that are life-giving.
I would take all our troops out of Iraq and replace them with people who build schools and infrastructure, and that pass out basic necessities, play with kids, and help life feel like it's returning to normal. I would start a federal educational program to send Americans there to learn Arabic so that we can communicate better, to create jobs there, and to build relationships between Americans and Iraqis in order to help more Americans remember the humanity of the "enemy."
In Afghanistan I would do what I think we should have done in the first place, which is for the President of the USA to say, "We are hurting over the attack that was brought against us, but we also understand the pain and hurt that would be required to pull off an attack like this. We are sorry for our policies that have created so much resentment against the USA. We are open to dialogue: we want to change so that this world and this global economy has a place for everyone. Please give us suggestions! While we're listening, we will do what we know is useful: we will build schools, we will support true democracies, and we will attempt to listen to and respect those who wish to speak to us." I would take troops out of Afghanistan and send engineers, teachers, and construction workers. I would give the reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan the same amount of money it would cost to continue wars there, although I would give a higher percentage of that money to Afghanistan than is currently being allotted. This would be "operation hearts and minds" for real: creating friends by attempting to fix the horrific situation we've caused there for at least the last 20 years.
The hardest thing would be to deal with situations like Darfur, or like Bosnia, Rwanda, etc. in the past. What would we do in situations of genocide? The obvious answer is to stop situations like that before they start, but coming into an administration where there are already huge problems going on in several areas around the world would mean I would have to deal with them as they are. I would create a Christian Peacemaker Teams-style governmental agency, or perhaps just tell churches and synagogues and mosques to create their own versions of this group, and to send thousands and tens of thousands of men and women around the world to work on peace and reconciliation in trouble areas. I would also request that other nations send similar people to the US, to help us see the areas of injustice that occur in our own nation, and to see it with fresh eyes, and to help us deal with inequity more effectively because we had an outside mediator. I would request people from abroad to come help us with our immigration issue especially. How can we as a nation be welcoming toward others, but not be overrun by people who want to live here? And how can we be loving and grateful toward the immigrants who do the jobs here in the US that no Americans want to do (legally and illegally, such as picking fruits and veggies and working as janitors, factory workers and doing manual labor), but that really need to be done in order for our country's economy to work? I would admit that we as a nation don't know how to deal with this problem and need help.
I would also attempt to bolster the economies of the other American nations so that people don't need to move to the US in order to get a fair wage or find a job. I would support organic farming and renewable energy production so that their economies can thrive on things that are good and useful to the world, and so that even if we don't buy local products we can ensure that we're not buying products that required a lot of fossil fuel or other non-renewable, ecologically damaging energy to get to our stores.
Well, I know this is only the tip of the iceberg on foreign policy, but this is all I have time for.
Also, does anyone else struggle with knowing whether to vote with your conscience and vote someone you think would actually live out your ethics in office, or to vote for the lesser of the two evils? Should we try to break down the dualistic, black and white (somewhat literally, in this case) 2-party system we've created, or should we vote for someone like Kucinich who would stand for peace and the environment? (He's not running for president anymore because he doesn't want to be blamed for taking votes from Obama, but still, he would stand for what's right more strongly than either candidate, in my opinion, since no matter how much either of them talk about change they are still bound by popular ideas of war and Israel and the necessity of keeping oil companies happy and stuff like that.)
On another note, if anyone's still reading, while watching the VP debate I could hardly wait to see Saturday Night Live's spoof of it. And while I'm on this topic, the Republicans really should have thought twice before picking a candidate who looked so much like Tina Fey! The first thing I thought when I saw her was, "SNL is going to have the time of their lives with this one!" And I don't even watch SNL religiously. (Well, I suppose when I watch it, I watch it religiously, because everything in life is a sacrament, right? But that's beside the point.)